From left, Castell Award winner Accor CEO of North and Central America Heather McCrory, Castell Project board member and Panther Ridge Partners principal Kirk Kinsell and Castell Project founder Peggy Berg. McCrory received an award by artist Brad McCollum representing the glass ceilings women rise through as they succeed during the Lodging Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, in September.

HEATHER MCCRORY, CHIEF executive officer of North and Central America for hotel management company Accor, is the winner of the first Castell Award from the Castell Project, an organization dedicated toward promoting the careers of women in the industry. McCrory received the award during the Lodging Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, in September based on her qualifications as a change-maker, a trailblazer, a gender equality champion and a principled professional.

In her position, McCrory oversees more than 115 hotels, 11 brands in 10 countries, 28,000 employees and $3 billion in revenue. She also is the executive sponsor for North and Central America for Accor’s international RiiSE network to promote diversity, launched one year ago.

As part of the RiiSE program, McCrory leads a research project studying why women are opting out of leadership roles, as well as a formal mentorship program for women within the organization seeking to become general managers.

“The work that the Castell Project is doing to assist women in securing one in every three leadership seats in the hospitality industry is encouraging, but we all still have a long way to go,” McCrory said. “’Gender inclusivity is a personal and passionate goal of mine, both for Accor and the hospitality industry at large.  While women make up more than 50 percent of the hospitality workforce, we need to have more females in the board room.  As numerous studies have proven, this benefits the industry and drives our collective performance.”

There were many nominations for the inaugural award, Castell Project founder and President Peggy Berg said.

“Heather stood out as a powerful female making a difference in the industry,” Berg said. “She understands wholeheartedly that as part of an international hospitality company, a more diverse team is a better performing team. Heather is an inspiration to other women as they find their own paths to success.”

In August, the Castell Project released its second annual Women Speakers in Hospitality (WSH) list to increase the number of women speakers at hospitality industry events. The list, available upon request to event organizers, includes female hoteliers and hospitality real estate executives and customized lists are prepared for each party requesting it.